Tag Archives: Michael Harlow

Poetry Shelf, Poet’s Choice: Fiona Kidman makes some picks

sweeping the courtyard cover      Being_Here_cover__66009.1423089464.140.215


There have been  many wonderful new books about this year. But isn’t it always the way? You come to the point of saying, this is my pick, and they all come flooding along saying pick me. So, as it’s been a sensational year for South Island poets, perhaps I will make them my point of reference.

I had the privilege of launching Vincent O’Sullivan‘s Being here:Selected Poems (Victoria University Press). The beautiful hardback satisfies at every level, both from the aesthetic point of view of book production to the selection of poems which is never random, but designed to carry the reader from one place to another, as if all the poems are brand new, and speaking to each other. It includes one of my all time favourite O’Sullivan poems, ”Waikato-Taniwha-Rau” (originally from ‘The Rose Ballroom’ 1982). It begins:

We have a fiction that we live by; it is the river

that steps down, always down, from the pale lake

to the open jaws of land where the sea receives it


I had equal pleasure from Sweeping the Courtyard, the selected poems of Michael Harlow (Cold Hub Press) (and yes, yes, I grant that I am responsible for some cover comments, but they come from the heart). The music of language has long been a preoccupation of Michael Harlow, and his poems invite the reader to share nocturnes, harmonies and song. Thus,
“Song for two players” commences with the lines:

Are you by any chance a piano key?

she asked, reminding me

in our heart to hand affair, that not

all is black and white –


Fracking and Hawk by Pat White (Frontiers Press) is an elegant little book with a powerful voice. White is not afraid to address political issues without losing the tone of a poetic voice. The beauty of the hawk is reflected in the title poem, but also reminds us that time is running out for the earth.

418MHC3lAEL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_  418MHC3lAEL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_   418MHC3lAEL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_   418MHC3lAEL._SX346_BO1,204,203,200_

Emma Neale‘s new collection has already attracted so much comment  that there is little left to say, except that I, too, love Tender Machines, (Otago University Press). Her eloquent plangent voice just gets stronger with time.

And, just to move outside this, admittedly, rather artificial boundary for a moment, there is  a poet whose work has carried me through six decades of reading poetry. She is the late American writer, Louise Bogan. The Blue Estuary Poems 1923 -1968 collects her finest work. Her poems are about yearning,the lives of women, survival. I read her every year, her work never far from the bedside table.


Fiona Kidman


9780473326364  1522562



Warmest congratulations to Michael Harlow – Winner of 2015 Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award

Poetry Shelf extends warm congratulations to Michael and the Highly Recommended poets.


Press release:

Michael Harlow has won the Kathleen Grattan Poetry Award 2015 with his collection of poems Nothing For It But To Sing.

‘Michael Harlow’s poems,’ says Emma Neale, judge of this year’s Grattan Award, ‘are small detonations that release deeply complex stories of psychological separations and attractions, of memory and desire.’

‘This is a poet with such a command of music, the dart and turn of movement in language, that he can get away with words that make us squirm in apprentice workshops or bad pop songs – heart, soul – and make them seem newly shone and psychically right.’


On hearing the news Michael Harlow said, ‘I’m absolutely delighted particularly because it involves publication with Otago University Press. It will be wonderful to be on the OUP list.’

Michael was at a World Poetry Festival in Romania when he received the news. Commenting on the $10,000 award money he said, ‘it will buy time – the thing that all writers need. I’m planning to use the time to work on a book of prose poems.’


The award attracted 109 entries. Six poets were highly commended: Hannah Mettner, Elizabeth Morton, David Howard, Nick Ascroft, Alice Miller and Victoria Broome.

The Kathleen Grattan Award is one of the richest poetry prizes in New Zealand. Otago University Press accepts the winning manuscript for publication and the winner also receives a year’s subscription to Landfall.


Auckland poet Kathleen Grattan, a journalist and former editor of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly, died in 1990. Her daughter Jocelyn Grattan, who also worked for Woman’s Weekly, shared her mother’s love of literature. Jocelyn generously left Landfall a bequest with which to establish an award in memory of her mother.

Previous winners are Joanna Preston (The Summer King, 2008); Leigh Davis (Stunning Debut of the Repairing of a Life, 2009); Jennifer Compton (The City, 2010); Emma Neale (The Truth Garden, 2011) and Siobhan Harvey (Cloudboy, 2013).

The biennial award will next be granted in 2017 (see Otago University Press website for further details: http://www.otago.ac.nz/press).


About Michael Harlow

Michael Harlow has published ten books of poetry: Giotto’s Elephant (AUP, 1991) and The Tram Conductor’s Blue Cap (AUP, 2009) were both finalists in the national book awards. Harlow has held numerous fellowships and residencies including the Katherine Mansfield Fellowship and the Burns Fellowship. In 2014 he was awarded the prestigious Lauris Edmond Memorial Award for Distinguished Contribution to New Zealand Poetry. This year (2015) he received the Beatson Fellowship for writers. Michael Harlow lives and works as a writer, editor and Jungian therapist in Alexandra, Central Otago.

Just announced Michael Harlow gains Lauris Edmond Poetry Award

6   Unknown-3

Terrific news: Michael Harlow has been awarded the Lauris Edmond Poetry Award.

To celebrate Friends of the Lauris Edmond Memorial Prize and the New Zealand Poetry Society gathered for readings from Riemke Ensing, Michael Harlow, Vivienne Plumb, Jenny Bornholdt and Geoff Cochrane (and the announcement!) at a Festival event.

The Lauris Edmond Memorial Award is for Distinguished Contribution to Poetry in New Zealand. Established in 2002, the prize is awarded biennially for excellence in and substantial contribution to New Zealand poetry.

I am also looking forward to Michael’s new selected poems, Sweeping the Courtyard, out March 2014 with Cold Hub Press.